Onitsha drugs market closure: Stakeholders blame market executive for losses

Reactions have continued to trail last Friday's closure of Onitsha drugs market on the orders of the executive members of the market.

The market had been closed for Thursday and Friday to enable the traders participate in a two-day capacity building workshop for stakeholders in Coordinated Wholesale Centres, CWCs, organized by the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, PCN in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra state.

However, the Thursday closure did not raise any crisis because it was optional for only those who were interested in participating in the seminar.

Bu pandemonium erupted on Friday when the market executive allegedly ordered the market task force to close the entire drugs market as part of strategies to enforce full participation of the traders at the seminar.

According to an eye witness, the task force had allegedly applied all available means to force the traders out of the market, before closing all the open shops, all in a bid to ensure that a greater number of them attended the seminar.

Reacting to the development, former Secretary-General of Onitsha Patent and Proprietary Medicine Dealers Union, OPPMDU,  Chibuzor Nwokeji and a stakeholder at the drugs market, Chidoo Anizor, told newsmen yesterday that all the traders in the drug market were counting their losses, following the alleged forceful closure of the market for the day.

According to Nwokeji and Anizor, an average trader at the drugs market makes sales amounting to N120,000 per day, adding that if this figure is multiplied by the yet-to-be determined number of traders who were forcefully chased out of the market and their shops closed on the fateful day, the losses would run into billions of naira.

They contended that the Uche Eze-led executive members of the market had no business forcing every trader to participate in the seminar because attendance was not supposed to be compulsory but optional.

Besides, they further contended that the seminar was supposed to be for the traders who bought forms and indicated their interest to relocate to a new site at Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area of the state, an outskirt of Onitsha.

Also in their own reaction, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, BoT of Surgical and Scientific Allied Equipment Dealers Union, SSAEDU, Mr. Cyprian Umeh and Chairman of the Surgical Union, Sir Anselm Obiagwu accused the market task force of using maximum force to carry out the market closure and for extending their brutality to the surgical union which is an independent organ.

According to Umeh and Obiagwu, the task force members, numbering over 30, some of whom they identified as members of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB had at about 8 a.m. stormed the market with arms and other dangerous weapons and allegedly unleashed mayhem on the traders.

Specifically, Umeh and Obiagwu alleged that the task force did not only chase out the traders from the market and locked up their shops but also injured about 10 persons and allegedly looted their shops and destroyed goods worth millions of naira.

They also accused the Uche Eze-led executive members of the drugs market of unleashing the task force on members of the Surgical Union who are not even members of the drugs market, adding that some traders at the drugs market who could not afford the N40,000 seminar fee were those attacked by the task force.

However, in a swift reaction, the chairman of the drugs market, Uche Eze told newsmen that the essence of closing the market for the day was to enable all stakeholders in the drugs market participate in the all important workshop.

He said he was not aware of any looting of cash or damaging of goods in the market by the task force because they did not go to the market, as a result of the importance of the workshop, adding that if at all there was any looting, those who opened their shops while other went for the seminar should be held liable.

Flanked by his executive members, Eze admitted that the surgical equipment dealers union is an independent union, but they have the same entrance gate with the drugs market and as a result, the closure of the entrance gate affected their own business.

The Divisional Police Officer, DPO at Fegge Division, Rabiu Garba (SP) who rushed to the market and averted the seeming crisis arising from the closure of the market, had described the incident as mere market politics, adding that he was not aware that anybody or group sustained injury or lost cash and goods as a result of the market closure.

He challenged those who claimed to have sustained injuries lost cash and goods to come forward and furnish the police with detailed information about their predicaments for appropriate actions.
Onitsha drugs market closure: Stakeholders blame market executive for losses Onitsha drugs market closure: Stakeholders blame market executive for losses Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Monday, April 03, 2017 Rating: 5

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